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UPS CEO sees bright future, busy holiday shopping, shipping season
Author: DAVID KOENIG, Associated Press

DALLAS — Online shoppers are becoming more demanding — impatient might be a better description — and that is good for UPS.

Profit at United Parcel Service Inc. is rising partly because next-day and second-day deliveries in the U.S. are booming.

Big Brown has invested heavily in new, highly automated sorting facilities to handle the growing volume. The company will get a big test of that investment during the upcoming holiday season, when it expects to process about 32 million packages per day.

UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney, 64, spoke recently with The Associated Press about the peak delivery season, the growth in online shopping, and the company’s foray into making deliveries with drones. The comments are edited for brevity.

UPS just reported a huge increase in next-day deliveries in the U.S. What’s going on?

There has just been a structural change when it comes to air shipments, and big e-tailers and retailers and others are wanting to get packages to customers within 24 hours. Our next-day volume of core shipments is up 24 percent, our second-day or our preferred is up 17 percent, and it really led to our best quarterly profit in history of 112 years, and we’re happy by that.

You’re heading into the peak season for business. How are you set up for delivery of holiday purchases?

We’ve got momentum for peak. The forecast: we expect that the number of shipments will increase 50 percent over what we normally do. Our service levels are high. We’ve opened our new buildings early, so they’re operating now, ready to go. We have the new aircraft in place. We’ve announced we’re hiring 100,000 employees . But the big thing is because the machine which is our network is running so effective right now, we believe that that carries right into peak. So we are in solid shape.

Is the growth in online shopping going to slow down?

We don’t see a slowdown there. We’ve got to remember less than 15 percent of total commerce is e-commerce at this point, but it’s increasing. It is certainly a big part of our strategy.

How are changes in the delivery business affecting revenue and costs?

Some of the structural change that has occurred with next-day ground, where retailers are having more and more of their shipments come out of their stores, so we’re getting much smaller shipments and lighter. That’s going to affect revenue per piece, but the big thing is our cost per piece is reducing much more than our revenue per piece.

Does that add complexity to your network?

Yes. When you say complicated, we’ve got a very complex, smart logistics network. We collaborate so closely with the top 1,000 or so customers that they know our capacity, we know their needs. … With the investments we have made we’ve got an unparalleled service and it’s showing with the results.

Amazon.com is building a delivery network. How big a threat is that to UPS?

Amazon and we have a good relationship, it’s mutually beneficial, but we monitor what they or any other competitor or potential competitor could do. Separate from our competitors, we chose to lean into e-commerce quite a few years ago, and we have had good success. It’s small and mid-size companies, it’s large retailers and e-tailers including Amazon. Our mission is to help small and mid-size companies compete with the large retailers and e-tailers. It’s much bigger than one company, and we are leaning in and it’s working.

Death Notices
Author: The Columbian

David I. White, 47, Vancouver died Nov. 8, 2019. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Daniel D. Weiss, 50, Vancouver, died Nov. 7, 2019. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Donald C. Gee, 66, Brush Prairie, died Nov. 6, 2019. Cascadia Cremation & Burial Services, 360-213-2060.

James F. Horner, 59, Washington, Utah, died Oct. 31, 2019. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Michele M. Forrest, 58, Vancouver, died Nov. 6, 2019. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Paul P. Wilson, 81, Camas, died Nov. 7, 2019. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

West Village Farms’ indoor, vertical style a growing success
Author: Columbian staff writer

Inside the old Hewlett-Packard printer factory in east Vancouver, Ken Kaneko walks among towering rows of scaffolding that hold sprouted plants growing under LED lights.

Kaneko is the co-owner and CEO of West Village Farms, a company harnessing a new type of agriculture called “vertical farming,” and it’s among the first in Clark County that’s growing food indoors using marijuana-industry methods.

Every factor of the farm can be controlled because the operation is indoors: the temperature, the amount of light and what touches the plants — never bugs or pesticides. Growing the plants in dirt trays stacked eight rows high allows the farm to conserve space.

West Village is about a year into selling its lettuce and microgreens at high-end grocers in Oregon and Washington, including New Seasons and Chuck’s Produce, where a plastic container retails for $4.99. The young company is in a state of rapid growth as it works its way into more stores on the West Coast.

In October, the farm began harvesting three times a week, up from twice, to get fresher products to customers. It’s also seeing double or triple revenue growth each month, Kaneko said.

“Compared to last year, we made 80 times more,” he said of the revenue. “But we’re still in the infant stages of the company.”

Kaneko expects to expand operations inside West Village Farm‘s rented space at 18110 S.E. 34th St. It’s using a little more than half its 25,000-square-foot space and plans to be at full capacity by the first quarter of 2020.

Unlike any outdoor farm, West Village also plans to expand operations upward by adding at least four more rows, which are bundled into a “pod” reaching nearly to the ceiling.

Kaneko touts both health and environmental benefits of consuming indoor-grown plants. Even outdoor-grown food labeled organic can sometimes be exposed to herbicides or pesticides, he said.

Another advantage is having a short farm-to-table time. Compared with plants harvested on outdoor farms and trucked long distances to the grocer, harvesting plants in Vancouver means putting them on shelves in one or two days.

“A lot of microgreens are shipped here from (California), but it takes two weeks before they hit the shelves,” he said. “With West Village Farms, the product arrives at grocery stores a day or two after it’s harvested. That’s how we provide quality to our customers.”

West Village Farm’s method uses 95 percent less water compared with an outdoor farm, Kaneko said. Part of that is due to the company’s patented irrigation system.

Technology company

Before Kaneko co-founded West Village, he worked for Apple in California, and often traveled for work. He recalls a business trip to Japan, where he saw a vertical farm operating out of a defunct semiconductor factory.

“I thought it was an interesting idea,” he said. “It was a thing in Japan, especially after the Fukushima disaster, to secure the supply chains of food.”

The vertical farms also reminded Kaneko of his time at Stanford University studying computer hardware manufacturing. At Stanford, where Kaneko earned a degree in materials science and engineering, he learned about two of the legends to come out of the department: Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel, and Ko Nishimura. Nishimura fell victim to American internment during World War II but eventually became CEO of Solectron, one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturing companies.

“I idolized both those people,” Kaneko said.

After Kaneko toured the vertical farm in Japan, he learned that Nishimura owned one in California called Ecopia, so he reached out to him via email.

The two met for lunch, and Kaneko began to materialize his interest in starting his own vertical farm in the Pacific Northwest, where Kaneko held his first job after college at Intel’s Hillsboro, Ore., complex.

Over the next year, Nishimura “probably was vetting me out,” Kaneko said. “Afterward, when we felt comfortable with each other, we decided to create this new company.”

Kaneko, Nishimura and some other investors eventually decided to name the company after Nishimura, which in Japanese translates to “West Village.”

 

Google’s Pixel 4 XL loses its notch, gains motion sense and is a pure Android experience
Author: Jim Rossman, The Dallas Morning News

Ah, a clean Android environment is a good thing.

Google is the developer of the Android operating system and it is used by virtually all device manufacturers that are not named Apple.

Android on its own is a great operating system, but most phone manufacturers think they can improve on it with their own software additions, which are mostly not that good.

Several years ago, Google started selling its own phones – called Pixel – that featured the latest version of Android OS in its purest form, and the company followed it up every year with a new model.

This year, Google introduced the Pixel 4 and larger Pixel 4 XL, which follow a tradition of high-end flagship phones that run the absolute latest version of Android without any other software getting in the way.

Other manufacturers are slow in rolling out new versions of Android, as they have to make sure their own software is compatible before they can release the upgrades.

Google will keep the Pixel phones updated with the latest version of Android as soon as it’s released for at least the next three years.

I’ve been testing the Pixel 4 XL that was kindly provided by AT&T.

Design

Perhaps the biggest change in this year’s Pixel is on the front.

The Pixel 4 XL loses the screen notch from last year’s Pixel 3 XL. Instead, Google dropped the screen down on the face of the phone about a quarter-inch so the selfie camera is now above the screen. Users are missing out on the dog ears (the tiny bits of screen on either side of the notch), but I think the Pixel 4 XL has a much cleaner look.

Design-wise, when the screen is off, the Pixel 4 XL looks almost identical to my iPhone XS Max.

Face Unlock

Google eliminated the fingerprint reader in favor of facial unlock. I lamented the passing of fingerprint unlocking when Apple did on my iPhone. But after a few days, using my face to unlock the phone didn’t bother me at all.

Motion Sense (gestures)

Alongside the selfie camera on the phone’s forehead is a new Motion Sense radar sensor that is used to sense approaching hands to wake the phone before you pick it up, which seriously speeds up the face unlock feature. This is easily my favorite feature of the Pixel 4 XL.

Just move your hand over the sleeping phone and you’ll see the screen spring to life, ready for you to lift it up and unlock it with your face.

As your face is recognized, the phone automatically takes you to the home screen, unlike Apple’s face unlock that still requires you to swipe up on the screen to enter the home screen. I think Google’s face unlock sequence is superior.

Motion Sense can also be used for controlling music playback or to silence alarms or calls by waving your hand above the screen.

It has a pretty limited use at launch, but I can see it catching on with developers to become more useful.

Better Cameras and software

Pixel phones have been ahead of the curve when it comes to cameras and the Pixel 4 XL keeps the tradition, but with one fewer camera.

Samsung and Apple flagship phones have added a third, ultra-wide lens, but not Google.

The main camera now has two lenses — a main camera with a 12.2-megapixel sensor and a 28mm wide angle lens with an f/1.7 aperture and a 45mm f/2.4 telephoto camera with a 16 MP sensor for a 2x optical zoom.

The selfie camera has an 8 MP sensor with a 22mm wide lens with an f/2.0 aperture.

The Pixel 4 XL has very nice cameras but what really makes them stand out is very good software behind the lenses to help process the pictures.

There are few cool new camera modes including Night Sight, which uses long exposures and multiple photos to really lighten up very dark scenes. You can also preview Live HDR+, (high dynamic range) photos on the screen before you shoot the picture. Portrait mode, which allows for selective blurring behind the subject, is also improved.

Even without a third camera, the Pixel 4 XL produces some of the best photos I’ve seen from a phone.

Faster Screen Refresh

LED screens work by refreshing all the pixels on the screen many times each second.

Most screens have a refresh rate of 60Hz (60 frames-per-second), but the OnePlus 7 Pro and Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL have a 90Hz refresh rate, which means scrolling and action playing on the screen look noticeably smoother. The higher refresh rate is very cool, but it does drain the battery faster, so the Pixel phone’s screen drops to 60Hz when screen brightness is dimmed lower than 75 percent.

Google Assistant

Like Apple’s voice control in iOS, Google has been working on its digital assistant (now called Google Assistant) to allow for more control of more aspects of Android and inside apps.

A quick squeeze on the sides of the Pixel 4 XL brings up Google Assistant, which rises up from the bottom of the screen.

Speaking the words, “Open CNN.com,” brings up Chrome and launches CNN’s website. Once that page opened, I wasn’t able to pick links with my voice so the magic stops there.

Of course, for now, Google’s own apps (Chrome, Maps, YouTube, Photos) have better integration with the new Assistant. I’m sure things will improve with future updates.

Specs

The Pixel 4 XL has a 6.3″ P-OLED screen with a resolution of 1,440 x 3,040 pixels for a pixel density of 537 pixels-per-inch.

The CPU is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 with 6 gigabytes of RAM and 64 or 128GB of onboard storage (there is no memory card slot).

The phone measures 6.31 x 2.96 x 0.32 inches and weighs 6.81 oz.

It runs Android 10.

Communication options include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 and NFC for mobile payments.

The charge/sync port is USB-C 3.1.

The 3,700 milliamp-hour battery does fast charging and Qi wireless charging.

There is no headphone jack, and there are no headphones included.

It’s IP68 water resistant for up to half an hour underwater.

The Pixel 4 is available in Clearly White, Just Black or Oh So Orange.

Pricing and availability

The Pixel 4 and 4 XL start at $799 and $899 for the 64GB version. Add $100 to each to double the storage to 128GB.

The Pixel 4 models are also the first to be available from sources other than Google. You can buy them from every major wireless phone carrier and electronics stores like Best Buy.

Weather Eye: After that surprise rainfall, let’s try to dry out, shall we?
Author: Patrick Timm

Well, we finally did it. Broke our dry spell of 14 days with nearly a quarter-inch of rain as of 4 p.m. Saturday here in Vancouver. Our last measurable rainfall had been 0.04 inch Oct. 25.

Rainfall amounts were consistent from Vancouver north to the border with about a quarter-inch along the I-5 corridor as of late afternoon. Why did it rain when forecasts played it down, you may ask? Especially after looking at forecast models that indicated no rain well into next week? The guidance we followed said the rain would stay to our north and along the coast.

The 10 or 20 percent chance of rain developed into a 100 percent chance, for sure. The models had been struggling the past week trying to break down the massive high pressure off the coast. With it being unusual for November, there was some difficulty. Persistence isn’t always a good call in the weather business.

So we dry out today and Monday, and another low pressure slides through on Tuesday with perhaps another shot of rain on the light side. Then dry in the Wednesday/Thursday time frame, but finally maybe our normal progression of weather systems and rain begins the end of the upcoming week.

Freezing levels remain high over 6,000 feet, so rain in the ski areas. That places us in the week before Thanksgiving. Hopefully, the moisture keeps streaming in and snow levels lower enough to open some ski runs. It is possible.

Bank of America boosts worker minimum wage sooner than expected
Author: Danielle Chemtob, The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America will raise its minimum wage from $17 to $20 an hour early next year, more than a year sooner than previously announced.

The bank said Monday the new minimum wage, first announced this spring, will now go into effect by the end of the first quarter in 2020. It was scheduled to increase to $20 by 2021.

The bank said the decision to move up the timeline for the increase is part of its commitment to be a great place to work through offering “leading” benefits, including pay.

In May, the company raised the minimum wage to $17 an hour.

The wage for the bank’s lowest paid workers has increased by more than $8 an hour since 2010, Bank of America said in a release. The move impacts thousands of the bank’s 208,000 employees.

CEO Brian Moynihan previously told CNBC that the increase to $20 would mean that employees starting with the bank would earn a minimum of $41,000 a year.

The announcement comes a week after the financial institution said it would give a one-time bonus to 95 percent of its employees.

It’s the third year in a row the bank has given the bonuses, either in the form of cash or restricted stock units.

Employers nationally have been under pressure to raise compensation for the lowest-paid workers as the cost of housing and other expenses have outpaced wage increases.

In North Carolina, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. (Washington’s minimum wage is $12 per hour.)

According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, a single person in Mecklenburg County would need to earn $12.58 an hour to make ends meet, and an adult with one child would need to make $24.69.

NYT Politics

Warren Would Take Billionaires Down a Few Billion Pegs
Author: Patricia Cohen
Elizabeth Warren’s tax proposals would significantly curb the gigantic fortunes of America’s richest families over time.

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